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 79-86 Reproduction Dash Pad Review

Credits:

Matt from Fox Mustang Restoration was kind enough to loan me the first "2nd Generation" console reproduction pad for this review:

Matt Highley
Fox Mustang Restoration
Phone # 772.834.8905
eBay ID:  foxmustangrestoration

The 1st Generation console pad is reproduced by DashTop ($55 on the street).
The 2nd Generation pad is made by Dashes Direct.  ($69 street)


The OEM Center Console Pad

The consoles found in 79-86 Mustangs and Capris takes an awful beating during their lifetimes.  It has a nice flat padded top that college kids find perfectly suited for that 6th person to sit on while you head out for a beer run!  This has a tendency to crack the console, split the sides of the pad and bust the pad's underside plastic support.  Pad's can be repaired to some degree but many are too far gone to bother with.

The original pad has a black plastic frame surrounded by the vinyl covered foam.  This internal plastic frame which can be seen from the underside, holds the rear hinge, the front latch and two bumpers on either side of the latch.  The pad I am using is not NOS, but it was a new takeoff pad (it was removed from a console that was never installed in a car) that I picked up on Ebay for $50 and dyed it grey.  It is from an 84-86 console.

Comparisons

Size/Shape/Construction

From the Top, all three pads look fairly identical.  I find all of them to look good.  The texture is about the same.  Only two things stand out:

I really didn't notice any problems with the "sponginess" of any of the materials used.  They all seemed to be about the same.

Color is good on either pad.  The restored console which I refinished with Metro Authentic Finishes closely matches the DashTop pad.  However, if you don't refinish your console, the Dashes Direct pad may more closely match.  Although the paint I used is a near perfect match to the plastic color, it does lighten it ever so little.  Even so, the unfinished Dashes Direct pad looked fine on the refinished console and you wouldn't really notice.  Of course, you can refinish any of the pads like I did with the OEM pad for a perfect, durable match.

From the Bottom, they really diverge in their construction. 

The Dashes Direct pad attempts to mimic the OEM pad a bit closer.  It molds the little "bumpers" on either side of the front latch into the pad.  These bumpers on the OEM pad are made out of black rubber while the Dashes Direct Pads bumpers are molded from the pad material and are the same color as the rest of the pad.  It seemed a little odd to me but I suppose if you paint them a satin black, you could mimic the original pad a little more closely.  The Dashes Direct pad does not have the visible hard black plastic underside frame as the OEM.  There is something on the inside but it is buried in the molded covering material.

The DashTop pad is "simplified" on the underside.  It foregoes the "bumpers" that the other two pads have and also does not have the black plastic frame on the underside.  It also has some internal structure which is unseen because of the surrounding material.

The absence of the black plastic frame on the OEM pad doesn't bother me in the least.  It was a bad design by Ford - plain and simple.  The sides on the OEM pad separate and pull outward because the underlying foam becomes weak and lets go of the frame.  Next the frame cracks because of this loss of support.  The construction of the reproduction is such that the outer material COMPLETELY wraps the entire unit.  There will be no pulling apart of anything that I could imagine....and nothing to crack.

One little disclaimer:  I know I have heard that the OLDER (79-82) Fox cars have a "squarer" pad.  The sides have less of a curve to them.  Unfortunately, I don't have an early pad to include in this comparison.

I did mention that the Dashes Direct pad is a tad bit shorter.  Maybe it was based off the earlier OEM pad and those pads are a bit shorter than the later pads.  I don't know this answer.

Installation

The OEM pad installed perfectly.  The latch and hinge bolted right up and it latched and opened easily on the console.

The Dashes Direct pad installed as easy as the OEM pad.  With a bit of adjustment (I had to move the hinge a wee bit on the console), it too latched and opened easily.  The 1/8" shorter height really is unnoticeable.

The  DashTop pad need a little more help.  On the center hump that the latch should go was missing the hole for the plastic alignment pin on the latch.  I simply marked the hole, drilled it (there is a metal frame in there) and installed the latch.  Once installed on the console, it seemed a little less "firm" than the OEM and the Dashes Direct pad.  This didn't seem to be any problem though and the latch worked quite well.  It latched a little harder than the other two is all I could detect.  By "harder" I mean I had to add a little extra force on the top of the lid...like about as much force as is needed to crack an egg with your thumb.

Both of the reproduction pads (and the OEM pad) will probably need to be dyed if you paint your console.  My console was painted with Metro Finishes 84-86 Mustang Interior Charcoal paint.  The reproductions are off slightly.

DashTop OEM Dashes Direct

Last Words

The OEM console pad is the nicest, and if in perfect condition, it feels good to have one.  But in all likely hood, even the best OEM pads may incur problems down the road like any normal used pad.

The reproductions are not perfect copies...but they offer durability and fit well and really look nice...and unless you really stare at them, they do look like a stock pad.  I suppose if you have studied all three, you might notice if a car has the repro or not.

If I had to choose, and the price was exactly the same, I would opt for the Dashes Direct pad.  It does have a closer shape to the OEM pad and the latch fits a little better.  If the DashTop pad is cheaper by $15-20 (which it generally is), I don't see a problem getting the DashTop pad.  It seemed to work just fine.  In a way, I actually like the more rounded features and the simple underside.

2003-2005 Michael Negus All Rights Reserved.
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